Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Who’s your pick for coach of the half-season?
Steve Aschburner: Gotta go with San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich for posting the league’s best record to this point while masterfully managing both the Spurs’ games and their roster. I’m a big fan of the overachievements so far by both Golden State and Chicago, which earns Mark Jackson and Tom Thibodeau excellent marks here at mid-terms. But San Antonio still is eight or nine games better than both of them and Pop isn’t leaning on any superstar-in-his-prime either. (Honorable mention to ensemble master George Karl in Denver.)
Fran Blinebury: My preseason pick is right on track: Tom Thibodeau. Take the best player off any other top 4 seed in either conference for the entire season and tell me they’re still a top 4 seed.
Jeff Caplan: First I’ll give you the obvious candidates: Tom Thibodeau, Frank Vogel, Mike Woodson, Gregg Popovich, Scott Brooks, Mark Jackson, Terry Stotts and even Lionel Hollins. Vinny Del Negro might be dropping off with the Clippers’ recent struggles even if they have come without Chris Paul. That’s quite a list and all have done great jobs.
Now, here’s my winner for coach of the half-season: P.J. Carlesimo. P.J. took over the Titanic, a sinking luxury (tax) liner with little hope of survival after stubborn star guard Deron Williams crashed into Iceberg Avery. This thing was going down and going down fast in the first eight weeks of a hugely important season in which the franchise had just been rebranded and plopped in a billion-dollar building in Brooklyn. Nothing could have been worse than a season destroyed by the end of December. Talk about pressure. Carlesimo truly saved the day, going 14-6 since taking over for the fired Avery Johnson after a 14-14 start. Hey, who knows how this thing finishes up? But the Nets were on the brink of disaster until Carlesimo pulled it out of icy water and set sail on a course for renewed hope.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Mark Jackson, over Tom Thibodeau and Mike Woodson. Jackson was the Warrior under the most pressure at the start of the season, after the front office delivered a roster ready for the playoffs, and so he gets the credit now that so much has gone right. The reworked defense has produced big results at the same time Golden State is winning with three rookies, succeeding mostly without Andrew Bogut and entirely without Brandon Rush, and with newcomers seamlessly incorporated into important roles.
John Schuhmann: Gregg Popovich. The Spurs have the league’s best record and rank in the top four in both offensive and defensive efficiency, even though they’ve been less-than healthy. Manu Ginobili hasn’t been himself for more than a game or two at a time. And though Tim Duncan is having a throwback season, he currently ranks 93rd in total minutes played. This team is getting great play on both ends of the floor from the top of the roster to the bottom. And I don’t think there’s another coach that can elicit the same kinds of contributions from role players like Danny Green, Tiago Splitter or Gary Neal.
Sekou Smith: Because we’re handing out imaginary trophies for imaginary awards, I might as well split mine in half. Golden State Warriors head man Mark Jackson gets the Western Conference Coach of the Half-Season Award and New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson gets the Eastern Conference Coach of the Half-Season Award. Players have shared season awards before (Grant Hill and Jason Kidd shared Rookie of the Year honors in 1995), so it isn’t completely far-fetched that two coaches would share this award at the halfway mark. Jackson’s Warriors have certainly been a surprise with what they’ve done this season. But it’s hard to overlook what Woodson’s Knicks have done in his first full season at the helm.